Stress, Sherlock Holmes, and a Biblical Worldview

A new series written by CLS Assistant Principal of Instruction for the Upper School, Mark Jedrzejczyk

Did you know that, by the time average Christian students graduate, they will have spent around 750 hours in church (1500 if they attend twice a week), 16,000 hours in school, and 15-20,000 hours consuming media? What do you think has the most impact on their beliefs?

In Christian education circles, we sometimes talk about “worldviews.” Worldviews are the default way we think, feel, believe, and act in the world.

Our school teaches a Biblical worldview. Christians sometimes disagree about exactly what that means. Still, at a minimum, a Biblical worldview includes a belief that God exists and that God revealed Himself in creation, the Bible, and Jesus Christ. As a story, a Biblical worldview is the tale of creation, fall, and redemption.

How does a worldview develop? Our experiences and relationships. Who we know, what we do, and what we experience all inform what we think about the world. 

I tell my kids that every decision changes them a little bit. When they speak truth, they’re becoming truth-tellers and understanding the world as a place where truth should be told. When they see people living out their faith, they discover how and why to follow Jesus. That’s how you gain a worldview: living it, thinking it, and seeing it. 

That’s #whyCLS and why Christian education is so important. 

* For more, read Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and, if you’re anything like me, blink confusedly, then visit the Wikipedia page. Then maybe take a nap. You’ve earned it! 

Have a child who is stressed out by math or test-taking in general? One study suggests that reframing stress can help students deal with math anxiety. The study says that students who think of a racing heart as “a tool that increases oxygen to the brain, supporting performance” changes how students think about stress.

Stress becomes thought of as something that helps performance rather than something that hinders performance. As a result, students who reframe their anxiety do better in challenging situations — like tests. In these stressful and challenging times, we all deal with chronic troubles that can raise our anxiety levels.

Consider talking with your children about how stress can benefit them. Reframing difficulties can help us look at the world differently. I often ask my own children about how bad things can be reconsidered: mistakes teach us lessons, and being hurt can teach us to not hurt others.

(However, students can be stressed by math, for example, for other reasons. Dyscalculia is a condition where a student struggles with understanding numbers and the relationships with numbers. If you think your student might have dyscalculia, talk to your pediatrician.)

Speaking of reframing things, let’s talk forgetfulness. I forget things all the time. Maybe you or your kids do as well. My wife is constantly reminding me where my keys are (“In your right hand”). Not long ago, I lost my wallet and my four-year-old daughter saved the day (“It’s in your car, dad”).

A recent study (“Forgetting as a form of adaptive engram cell plasticity”) argued that forgetting is a form of learning. Here’s the summary of the study. In a nutshell, forgetting is the mind’s flexible response to an ever-changing world.

Imagine if we always looked at the world as a child and believed, for example, the moon was made with cheese. That’s the sort of thing best forgotten. But when we became adults, we put away childish things (except video games. Or is that just me?).

We left behind, or forgot, childish conceptions of the world and replaced those thoughts with knowledge that was more relevant and useful. 

Sherlock Holmes once shocked Dr. Watson by admitting that he didn’t know that the earth was the center of the solar system. Holmes added, much to Watson’s chagrin, that his mind needed to be filled with useful information. I believe he proceeded to quickly forget heliocentrism, likely replacing the information with research on pimpernels.

Anyway, I’m not advocating trying to forget important facts. But, sometimes, we forget things because we’re learning about the world. We’re learning what matters based on what we think matters. That’s why it’s so important for students to connect their learning with something they find meaningful.

What matters to us is the key to learning. 

What matters to us is our worldview and shapes what we learn; what we learn shapes our worldview. Where our treasure is, so our heart is also.


A final quote for reflection: ”Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we do not experience it.” -Max Frisch